Delaware Handicap receives Grade I status
The Delaware Handicap, the filly and mare summer classic run as the signature race of the Delaware Park live racing season, has received Grade I status from the American Graded Stakes Committee for the first time since 1989. The American Graded Stakes Committee released the 2013 Graded Stakes today.
Last year, Royal Delta defeated Tiz Miz Sue with a thrilling stretch duel in the Delaware Handicap. Royal Delta, a 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker conditioned by William Mott, followed with a second in the Grade I Personal Ensign at Saratoga and victories in the Grade I Beldame at Belmont and the Grade I Ladies’ Classic at Santa Anita Park. For the second straight year, the Delaware Handicap will produce the champion of the filly and mare division. In 2011, Havre de Grace finished second to her archrival Blind Luck in the filly and mare summer classic before being named Horse of the Year and the champion of the filly and mare division.
“We are thrilled the Delaware Handicap has received Grade I status, and we would like to thank the American Graded Stakes Committee for this recognition,” said Senior Vice-President Michael Vild. “The most recent renewals have solidified the position of the Delaware Handicap as the filly and mare summer classic on the national calendar. Through the decades, the Delaware Handicap has proven to be a pivotal stepping stone on the road to the filly and mare championship, and the most recent renewals of the race have certainly met, if not surpassed, the standards of that tradition. This is a great moment for the race, the track and everybody who has ever been a part of the Delaware Handicap tradition.”
The Delaware Handicap has been an important date on the calendar for fillies and mare since the race was inaugurated in 1937. In 1953, the Del ‘Cap became the first race in the world to offer a purse of $100,000 or more in the filly and mare division. Seventeen eventual filly and mare champions have won the race including Marica, Kiss Me Kate, Grecian Queen, Parlo, Open Fire, Straight Deal, Susan’s Girl, Our Mims, Late Bloomer, Relaxing and Fleet Indian.
The date for the 2013 renewal has not been set, but will likely be in mid-July. The 2013 stakes schedule will likely be announced in February.